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Which of the possible cloud offerings – public, private and hybrid – is the best choice?

Cloud usage continues to gain momentum across all industries. In a recent FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2017 Predictions report, IDC predicted that between 60 percent and 70 percent of all software, services and technology spending will be on the cloud by 2020.

With this increase in cloud usage comes a corresponding need for employees with cloud skills. Supply has not kept pace with demand, however. The State of Cloud Readiness Study 2016 found that 53 percent of IT leaders are struggling to acquire the necessary skills to support cloud initiatives within their organizations, while almost half indicate staff training is not a priority.

This is a serious problem, but one that hold tremendous upside potential for career advancement and success for network and data center professionals with the right training and certifications. For those weighing a career in IT, cloud skills are in high demand and worth pursuing.

Pick your cloud
Which of the possible cloud offerings - public, private and hybrid - is the best choice? That depends entirely on each organization along with the type of data it generates and uses. Organizations using the public cloud rely on the resources of third-party service providers for cloud storage or online accounting software. The biggest argument in its favor is cost. Organizations can rent public cloud services for monthly or annual fees and it's up to the provider to keep them running, accessible and updated.

Public cloud is a type of Software as a Service (SaaS), and some providers are going further to offer Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). PaaS enables an application to run on different infrastructures. IaaS makes an entire infrastructure available as a rentable service.

However, the public cloud suffers from security and accessibility issues. Data on the public cloud may not be as secure as it should be, especially if it is sensitive financial or health information that is regulated. Also, if the internet is down, then the data and the application may not be available when the organization needs them.

This group of factors has led many organizations to set up their own, private clouds. Organizations use private clouds to make their data more secure and to arrange them the way they prefer. They are not interested in selling SaaS but want the benefits of the cloud. The downside is the expense, which can be significant, and the need to hire scarce IT professionals with cloud expertise.

Still other organizations find their version of the best of both worlds in the hybrid cloud. Organizations keep sensitive data more secure on an internally managed private cloud. They then use the public cloud when needed, as in peak demand periods, when individual applications can be sent to the public cloud. Hybrids are also helpful during rough weather, scheduled maintenance or rolling brownouts or blackouts. IDC predicts that 80 percent of enterprise IT organizations will commit to the hybrid cloud by 2017.

Security, database and other in-demand cloud skills
Once the choice of cloud has been made, the fact still remains that the organization will need IT professionals with certain cloud skills. Some of the fundamental skills are cloud migration and cloud security.

Learning and development can help fill the gap. Cloud skills training and certification courses should combine learning conceptual knowledge with developing hands-on skills. Topics covered should include:

  • Cloud infrastructure launch.
  • Private and hybrid cloud design.
  • Cloud security design.
  • ACI and APIC automation.
  • Application provisioning and lifecycle management.
  • Cloud systems management.
  • Private and hybrid IaaS provisioning.

Cloud migration has been a staggered process; some organizations are already there, and some have not yet made the move. All of them need IT professionals who have a solid grounding in the varying models for clouds. They also need to know how to map the organization's current IT infrastructure, including its applications and workloads on existing servers, and how to send all of what they have mapped to a cloud equivalent. The larger the organization, the more complicated this becomes.

Security is also critical in the cloud; almost every day brings news of yet another data breach. How to keep data secure, how to build and maintain secure platforms, and securing cloud infrastructure are all high-demand skills.

Organizations need IT professionals with know-how to develop and work with cloud applications, so additional top cloud skills cover SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. The same applies to cloud platforms and infrastructures. This means they should be fluent cloud programming languages like Python, Perl and Ruby along with traditional languages like .NET, Java and PHP. Linux skills are also in high demand.

As the Internet of Things generates quintillions of bytes of data daily, another high-demand skill is cloud database expertise. Organizations want most to uncover insights and new markets from this tsunami of data, and they need IT professionals with cloud database querying skills. SQL, along with open source languages like MySQL, Hadoop or Mongo DB are worth learning.

What the cloud requires
The cloud continues to advance, transforming business with new possibilities. But it requires specialized skills and knowledge in order for organizations to reap the benefits of a consistent, secure cloud deployment. IT professionals who are willing to obtain the needed cloud training and certifications will prove their mettle to current and prospective employers.

More Stories By Antonella Corno

Antonella Corno has 20+ years of experience in the IT industry as part of a career spanning two continents (Europe and North America), in several leading IT companies, most recently at Cisco. While she has been in technology R&D for most of her career, her interest has recently shifted to the training and certifications that are supporting and enabling the workforce of the future, and is she now responsible for the Application, Software and Cloud Team within the Product Strategy group in [email protected]

Antonella is a CCIE Emeritus, has been a speaker at several international conferences, and holds a number of international patents.

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